Netflix’s ‘Gray Man’ marketing blitz: emojis, TV ads and a tram

The Gray Man has his own emoji, he has sprinted across 3D billboards from Krakow to Seoul, and he has battled bad guys in more than 100 TV ads.

Netflix Inc launched one of its largest marketing campaigns ever to make sure audiences around the world knew that Ryan Gosling was starring in “The Gray Man,” the company’s big-budget summer action movie.

The streaming service has begun mounting larger awareness campaigns for its biggest titles as part of the roughly $2.5 billion it spends annually on marketing, Marian Lee, Netflix’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview.

“We want the conversation out there to be about Netflix shows and movies,” Lee said.

Netflix has lost more than 1 million subscribers this year and its shares have fallen 62%. Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings said the company is working to improve on all fronts, including marketing. Netflix remains the world’s largest streaming service with nearly 221 million subscribers.

“The Gray Man” was directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, the brothers behind “Avengers: Endgame” and other blockbusters from Walt Disney Co’s Marvel Studios, which typically spends $150 million or more to market action movies. The Russos told Netflix they wanted the company to make a big splash with “The Gray Man.”

“We tend to make movies of a certain scale that require a larger platform for release, a larger media push. And they were game for it,” Joe Russo said.

More than 100 “Gray Man” TV ads ran globally during live sporting events from the Monaco Grand Prix to the NBA Finals and shows such as “Big Brother” and “The Bachelorette.”

Three-dimensional billboards, which made explosions seemingly blast off the screen, lit up New York’s Time Square and cities around the world including Seoul, Krakow, Tokyo and Las Vegas.

“We are trying to ensure that we’re creating bespoke campaigns that connect with the audiences for that particular movie or show,” Lee said.

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